On Friday, a Texas airline worker was ingested into an engine and killed at San Antonio International Airport. The employee, whose name has not yet been released, was working on the runway at 10:25 p.m. when he was “ingested” into the engine of an Airbus A319 aircraft, which had just arrived from Los Angeles International Airport, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a written statement, according to NPR.
The NTSB confirmed the employee was an airport ramp worker and was employed by Unifi Aviation, a contracted third-party company Delta uses to assist with ground-handling operations. An investigation is underway into how the accident occurred, the NTSB said, and it confirmed it will release more information as it becomes available.
Unifi said in a statement to BBC News: “From our initial investigation, this incident was unrelated to Unifi’s operational processes, safety procedures, and policies.”
The NTSB and Delta did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but a Delta spokesperson told NPR that the airline was “heartbroken” to grieve the loss of an “aviation family member’s life.” The spokesperson added, “Our hearts and full support are with their family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Since 1969, there have been 33 reported personnel ingestions, one resulting in death, into the engines of 737 aircraft, the site says, while there were four reported fatal ingestions in Next-Generation 737 aeroplanes.
The tragedy at the San Antonio International Airport is the second this year after an unnamed employee was ingested into an Embraer 170 engine at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama on New Year’s Eve 2022. The employee reportedly ignored several warnings to stay away from the aircraft which had informed airport personnel that its engines were still running to cool down because the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit wasn’t working, according to NBC News.
Other reports include an engineer who was sucked into the engine of an Air India plane at a Mumbai airport in 2015, and in 2011, an engineer who was performing what NBC News described as routine maintenance on an Air New Zealand aircraft was sucked into the engine, which was not affixed to the plane, and killed.